Letter from President Pinson Regarding Commencement

Dear Members of the Welch Community,

These have been challenging times for all of us as we have coped with a global pandemic that had farther-reaching consequences than I ever imagined it would have. Our community has been resilient, however, and has navigated these troubled waters with prudence and with grace.

I was so saddened to have to announce to the Class of 2020 last year that we would have to cancel their normal 2020 Commencement activities. After meeting with the executive council of the Senior Class, we decided that the best way forward was to have Commencement exercises for the Class of 2020 at the same time as that of the Class of 2021.

While there are still many details to be finalized, and while anything could change given the current unpredictable situation with COVID-19, I wanted to announce the date of the Commencement exercises for both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 so that students and their guests could mark it on their calendars and make travel plans.

All Commencement activities for both classes will take place on Friday, May 7th. The times, locations, and details of the gatherings will be forthcoming. Guest seating will be limited owing to COVID-19 and the need for physically distanced seating. Thus a limited number of free tickets will be provided to each graduate for his or her family and friends.

Neither the graduate breakfast nor a Baccalaureate service will be held. An awards ceremony for the Class of 2021 will be held virtually, similar to what we held last year for the Class of 2020. Also forthcoming will be details regarding hooding for master’s degree recipients.

More details will follow as we finalize them. Thank you for your patience as we work through what will be a very different celebration in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. And continue to pray for us here at Welch as we continue to make key decisions and fulfill our mission in these difficult times.

The Lord bless you and keep you.


Matt Pinson

2019 Commencement Speakers Announced

Dr. Mark Stripling and Dr. Bruce Ashford will address the Welch College class of 2019, according to President Matt Pinson. Stripling, Senior Pastor of North Little Rock Free Will Baptist Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas, will present the baccalaureate sermon Thursday evening, May 9, at 7:00. Ashford, Provost and Professor of Theology and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, will address the graduates at the 10:00 a.m. commencement ceremony on Friday, May 10.

Stripling, who has served Free Will Baptist churches in a number of capacities for 36 years, has served at the North Little Rock Church since 1990. A Georgia native, he has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Executive Board of Arkansas Free Will Baptists and the Executive Board of the Central Association of Arkansas Free Will Baptists. He recently ended his second term as a member of the Welch Board of Trustees, serving most of his twelve years on the Board as its secretary.

Ashford is well-known in Christian higher education circles, having taught at Southeastern Seminary since 2003 and provost since 2013. An ordained Southern Baptist minister, he is a well-known conference speaker and prolific author. His best known book is Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians (Lexham, 2015). He is co-author of One Nation under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics (B&H, 2015) and editor of Theology and Practice of Mission (B&H, 2011).

President Matt Pinson said, “Commencement activities are such important events in the life of our college community at Welch, and especially for the graduating seniors. Commencement always highlights our mission to educate leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world through biblical thought and life. We’re grateful for the opportunity to have two great speakers address the graduating class. We invite friends, family, and alumni to join us in this special time of celebration.”

Speakers Announced for First Commencement Exercises on New Welch College Campus

GALLATIN, TN—Two Welch College alumni will challenge 2017 graduates at the first Commencement event on the new Gallatin campus, according to President Matt Pinson.

Clint Morgan, Free Will Baptist International Missions director, will address graduates during 10:00 a.m. Commencement exercises Friday, May 19. Reverend Todd Parrish, pastor of First Free Will Baptist Church in Washington, North Carolina, will present the Baccalaureate sermon Thursday evening, May 18 at 7:00.

A 1972 Welch graduate, Morgan completed a master’s degree in Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University and a degree in French from the University of Nante, France. He and his wife Lynette served as missionaries in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, for twenty-nine years and in France for four years. Morgan has been the general director of Free Will Baptist International Missions since 2011. He and his wife have four adult children and eight grandchildren.

A 1989 graduate of Welch and current student in Welch’s M.A. program in theology and ministry, Parrish has ministered in Free Will Baptist churches for more than twenty years. A trained counselor with a master’s degree in the field, he is former director of the Free Will Baptist Home for Children in Turbeville, SC. He currently serves as Assistant Moderator of the North Carolina Association of Free Will Baptists. He and his wife Merinda have two daughters, Emily and Ellen, the latter of which is a member of the Welch Class of 2017.

“The most uplifting time of year at Welch College is Commencement, as students receive their degrees and launch out into the future,” said President Pinson. “What a privilege to watch these young leaders go out to change the world. While some move on from here to pursue graduate degrees or professional training, most find places of service and begin making a difference in local churches, schools, and the marketplace. We encourage friends and family members to join us as we celebrate the 2017 graduates.”

For the latest information about coronavirus, visit welch.edu/coronavirus